Homeopath to success: Homeopathic products go mainstream


Homeopathic products at retail are one of the biggest success stories of a niche category going mainstream. Thanks to a confluence of factors — including the efficacy of homeopathic products, the increased interest from consumers in natural products, and the need for merchants to meet these consumer demands — the category, formerly reserved for health food stores or upscale natural retailers like Whole Foods Market, is quickly moving into traditional mass retail outlets.

“The market for natural, homeopathic products has experienced significant growth, driven by an increasing demand for self-care and alternative medicine,” said Susan Hanson, COO of The Relief Products, a Reno, Nev.-based manufacturer of homeopathic products. “Add to this macro trend, the consumer’s emerging belief that, while pharmaceuticals sometimes suppress symptoms, homeopathic medicines work gently and systemically with the body’s healing mechanisms.”

The latest numbers from Market Study Report show that the global homeopathy market will grow to $4.5 billion by 2024 from about $3.1 billion this year, a projected 6.3% compounded annual growth rate. The growth has been good for both consumers looking for effective products and mainstream retailers constantly on the lookout for new markets to entice these shoppers into their stores.

“You can see a lot of the top sellers from places like Whole Foods moving over to CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and mass retailers like Target and Walmart,” said Alissa Gould, the volunteer communications chair of the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists. “In doing so, I think it’s helping those mainstream stores attract the natural shoppers into their stores, and it’s connecting mainstream shoppers with these homeopathic products they may not have come across to begin with.”

Gary Wittenberg, vice president of national accounts at Boiron USA, said that could be very good news for a retailer’s financial ledger, noting that the homeopathic shopper tends to have a larger market basket than other shoppers. He said that homeopathic growth has happened rather quickly over the course of the last decade. When he started at Boiron 10 years ago, the company had just one SKU at a national drug retailer — its Oscillococcinum flu relief product. Now, Boiron has 23 products on store shelves at that same retailer.

The category also is largely driven by word of mouth, a grassroots trend that has one consumer telling another how well a homeopathic product worked for them. “It’s remarkable that with very little advertising — in comparison with conventional medicines, homeopathic products don’t advertise as much — yet they still can earn their place turning over on shelf,” Gould said.

As the category has grown, the AAHP has looked to bolster its regulatory-focused offerings. Typically, the organization offers three webinars a year. This year, it hosted its inaugural Quality and Safety Summit in Baltimore, where more than 100 attendees gathered for workshops focused on safety, quality and regulatory issues. It was keynoted by Francis Goodwin of the Food and Drug Administration’s office of quality and manufacturing. He reassured attendees that the FDA’s recent actions — in the first five months of 2019, the agency issued 10 warning letters to homeopathic companies — were the result of many companies being inspected for the first time, rather than larger issues regarding homeopathic ingredients and products.

“He explained this is not an attack on homeopathy, but that a lot of these places were first-time inspections,” said Gould, who also serves as Boiron USA’s director of corporate communications and public affairs. “I think our industry is going to improve greatly in terms of all the medicines out there being offered, and AAHP and Boiron certainly support this project the FDA is doing, completing these inspections in the interest of public safety.”

Opportunities abound
Growth for homeopathic manufacturers has not just meant selling more of their flagship products, but expanding into new ones where growth is within reach. Los Angeles-based Hyland’s, which is a top seller in cough-cold, particularly children’s cough-cold, has been targeting pain relief with its latest launches, the most recent of which is Flexmore Arthritis Pain Relief.

The product, which comes in tablet form, kicked off at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Total Store Expo, and will be available in two SKUs, one of which is Flexmore P.M. to help consumers with occasional sleeplessness.

Hyland’s president, Les Hamilton, said the products offer an additional option to those with arthritis pain. “We had great response to Flexmore. They have an easy-open bottle cap for people with arthritic hands and a complete formula that addresses the symptoms that people may be suffering from,” he said. “And since there are no known drug interactions with homeopathic products, you can take it in conjunction with other pain medications.”

Flexmore joins an array of other analgesic products from Hyland’s, including ArniCare and ArniSport tablets — the former is designed for the “weekend warrior” with body aches, and the latter is meant more for pro athletes who have overexerted themselves. “There are four individually wrapped packages of four tablets in each box, so it’s easy for a runner or someone in the gym to take as they’re exercising,” Hamilton said. “You don’t have to carry a bottle around with you. It’s nice to address the pain and so forth immediately while you’re exercising.”

Hyland’s also has reformulated its Muscle Therapy with Arnica pain relief gel to be free of parabens, and with a new viscosity and color. The product still addresses muscle stiffness, bruising, swelling and soreness, Hamilton said, noting that “it’s a holistic, complete formula in our topical.”

The idea of daytime and nighttime formulations that Hyland’s is using is one that The Relief Products also brings to its products. “Some OTC products today treat the patient with ‘day care’ only. Unfortunately, many conditions grow more difficult at night, such as pink eye, blepharitis, eye fatigue, tinnitus, allergies, etc.,” Hanson said. “Understanding consumer needs for 24/7 relief, The Relief Products offers relief from common ailments that tend to worsen at night.”

The latest daytime/nighttime introduction from TRP are Nighttime Eye and Ear Care products, complementing its existing daytime drops. TRP’s Pink Eye Relief PM is designed to relieve burning and grittiness, as well as overnight crusting, swelling and sleeplessness.

“The Relief Products’ complementary nighttime medicines have allowed us to expand the daytime/nighttime segment, which for a long time has been applied primarily to cough and cold remedies,” Hanson said.

At Boiron, the company is looking to expand its cough-cold and flu platform. The company supported its Oscillococcinum and ColdCalm products with ThroatCalm, a quick-dissolve sore throat relief tablet that has performed well. “Consumers have really embraced this natural solution versus products that just numb your sore throat,” Wittenberg said.“Consumers have really embraced this better-for-you solution versus products that just numb your sore throat,” Wittenberg said. He noted that the company has plans to launch a nasal congestion and sinus r